People are allowed go to a friend’s house during coronavirus lockdown to “cool off” after an argument at home, police chiefs have said.

Guidance issued to forces in England outlined a number of valid reasons people could leave their homes, such as driving somewhere for a walk or taking a break while walking for exercise.

The document also outlined a number of excuses that would not be acceptable, including sitting on a park bench for a long period of time or going out to buy paint brushes for decorating.

Those who need a “cooling-off” period after rows at home can move between households if they leave for several days, according to the advice given to officers.

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Details of the document, described as a reproduction of a “really useful practical guide” from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) on what might constitute a reasonable excuse, emerged on Thursday.

What you can and can’t do

The guidance details valid reasons to leave your home including:

  • Buying luxury items and alcohol

  • Driving to the countryside and walking, when far more time is spent walking than driving

  • Stopping to rest or eat lunch while on a long walk

  • Exercising more than once a day

  • Moving to a friend’s address for several days to allow a “cooling-off” following arguments at home

  • Buying tools and supplies for repairs and maintenance

It included excuses that would not be valid, including:

  • A person who can work from home choosing to work in a nearby park

  • A short walk to a park bench when the person remains seated for a much longer period than they walked for

  • Buying paint and brushes simply to redecorate a kitchen

  • Driving for a prolonged period with only brief exercise

It comes after some 3,203 fines were handed out by police in England between 27 March and 13 April to people caught flouting lockdown rules.

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Officers have been accused over overzealous policing and concerns have been raised the new powers are being misused.

The guidance warns the list of examples is “not exhaustive” and “each case still needs to be considered based on the individual facts as they present themselves”.

It adds: “Some public statements made soon after the adoption of the regulations suggested that members of the public could only leave their homes if ‘essential’ to do so.

“However, this is not the test set out in the regulations and there is no legal basis for a requirement in those terms to be imposed.”

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